I had the honor of serving as keynote at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2011 Roadshow program workshop for small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) at the University of California, Riverside on February 25. I had the opportunity to interface with approximately 20 local business officials and the audience asked great questions about export opportunities and how to overcome challenges in doing business abroad. I encouraged U.S. firms to not only seek customers in the United States, but amongst the 95 percent of the world's customers who live beyond our borders. I urged participants to consider Asia Pacific markets: more than 70 percent of the global economic growth has taken place during the past decade. In fact, developing countries are expected to be the fastest growing economies in the world between 2010 and 2015. And that means U.S. jobs. Fortunately, there's lots of help out there -- U.S. companies can seek support from 19 U.S. government agencies involved in trade promotion. One example of U.S. government efforts to promote business interests in the Asia Pacific includes seeking passage of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement which is expected to increase exports of American goods by $10 to $11 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs. The group was interested in the agreement's benefits for California, which exported an average of $7 billion in goods to Korea from 2007-2009.
More to come on this -- the United States is hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) this year, which means that officials from the 21 APEC economies will convene in the United States on various occasions this year to discuss how to expand economic cooperation in the Asia Pacific region in a way that fosters free and open trade and investment, and encouraged U.S. SMEs to engage in the APEC discussions on SMEs in mid-May in Big Sky, Montana.